The finishing par-4 18th hole at Del Paso Country Club (Photo by Martin Miller/USGA)
SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Del Paso Country Club is the oldest country club in the Golden State's capital. Originally founded in 1916 by Scotsman John L. Black, the course that 256 of the best senior professional — and amateur — golfers will see and test beginning this Thursday is much different than Black's original design from almost a century ago.
But before diving into the stunning Kyle Phillips transformation, which took place in 2006, one must understand the foundation of the golf course.
Del Paso was built on a historic 44,000-acre piece of land known as Rancho Del Paso. Nineteenth-century settlers used the property as a pathway through the Sierra Nevada mountains. Black planted the club on a small piece of the land in 1916 as the first private golf club in Sacramento.
Since then, the course has undergone multiple re-designs — seven to be exact. But none were as significant as that of Phillips nine years ago.
The 2015 U.S. Senior Open will be the club's fifth USGA event, but first since 1982. The event will also be the first men's USGA tournament hosted at Del Paso. And that was only made possible due to Phillips' hard work.
With the removal of over 1,000 trees and a complete re-routing of the course's 18 holes, the Del Paso its members know and love today is more than 600 yards longer, stretched out to a 6,994-yard par-70.
The course now stands out as Sacramento's premier golf club.
Complete with a full-size, all-grass driving range and an expansive short game facility, Del Paso meets all the needs of avid golfers. But the real fun is on the course.
The course features the longest par-5 in U.S. Senior Open history — the 15th. At 636 yards, it's 28 yards longer than Brooklawn Country Club's 7th, played during the 1987 tournament.
The beast of a hole sets up a spectacular finishing trio, beginning with the par-4 16th. At 494 yards, including a green-front water hazard, n well-placed and long tee shot is required for proper play of the hole. A drive up the right side provides for an easier approach around the right edge of the fronting lake, though a more left approach brings it far more into play.
The same lake guards the 225-yard par-3 17th before the course concludes at the steps of the clubhouse in the form of 462-yard par-4 18th. The approach shot carries Chicken Ranch Slough, the same forced carry golfers on the short ninth hole have to face, as well.
All told, the new Del Paso maintains its century-old heritage while providing immaculate course conditions, and while it lasts, rough length that more than meets USGA standards. At just under 7,000 yards, providing smooth-as-glass greens, Del Paso is arguably the toughest par-70 test in the Sacramento Valley.